socastcmsRssStartBy Greg Bishop | Illinois News NetworksocastcmsRssEnd
Despite a plan to approve a new watchdog to handle complaints about state lawmakers before the end of the year, it may not happen during veto session.
There’s been an acting legislative inspector general since last year, but that was only after the office vacancy was revealed by Denise Rotheimer in October 2017. Her abuse of power complaint against state Sen. Ira Silverstein, D-Chicago, sat dormant for more than a year because the post had been vacant for years.
Lawmakers picked Julie Porter to serve as acting LIG in November 2017. She picked up more than two dozen complaints that had sat dormant while the office was empty.
The multiyear vacancy prompted lawmakers to change state law to require the entire General Assembly to approve a permanent LIG, not just an approval by the Legislative Ethics Commission that had traditionally deferred the nomination to legislative leaders.
An LIG candidate was expected to be approved by the ethics commission and subsequently by the General Assembly before the end of the year.
Legislative Ethics Commission Chairwoman state Rep. Avery Bourne, R-Raymond, earlier this month said the new selection process has produced some candidates to take over the inspector’s watchdog duties on a more permanent basis.
“Now it’s our job to go through the recommendations and make a recommendation to the General Assembly, so we are closer,” Bourne said. “This is how the process is supposed to work.”
But the final week of session wraps up Thursday and it’s unclear if a permanent inspector will be approved before then.
Rotheirmer said not having a full-time LIG by the end of the year will be a major disservice to taxpayers.
“They are just going to send another message to the people of the state of Illinois that our government is a free-for-all for them to do as they wish, however they want and no one is going to tell them otherwise, not even the law,” Rotheimer said.
Porter said she can’t speak to the timing of appointing a permanent LIG, but she will remain on until that happens.
“Even before the process began, I told the [Legislative Ethics] Commission that I am willing to remain on as Acting LIG until a replacement has been approved, and I stand by that commitment,” Porter wrote in an email.
If that doesn’t happen by the end of the week, it could be sometime in January before the new class of lawmakers can get a resolution approved to fill the post.
If lawmakers close out the 100th General Assembly without a permanent LIG, Rotheimer said it would be a dereliction of duty.
“It is a requirement by law that that position be filled and if they are not going to do their duty, which is an act of nonfeasance, a violation of the Ethics Act, then we are just going to continue with this same betrayal of trust,” Rotheimer said.
Rotheimer said the Legislative Ethics Commission has had more than a year to secure the appointment of a permanent LIG. She said it was inexcusable to allow the office to remain vacant for even one day.